Water-repellent treatments for garments almost always involve the use of environmentally harmful fluorocarbons. In a collaborative project, the Smart Textiles Initiative at the University of Borås and OrganoClick, producer of fiber-based materials, have developed a fluorocarbon-free, biodegradable and durable treatment.
Tests performed at the Smart Textiles Prototype Factory and Swerea IVF have yielded excellent results, particularly in terms of wash durability—so good, in fact, that Asian fabric producer Chang-Ho Fiber signed an agreement with OrganoClick. This provides an opportunity to offer global clothing brands fluorocarbon-free functional fabrics with water-repellent properties, which have been produced using nothing but biodegradable chemicals.
A number of outdoor clothing companies are involved in the project, for example Haglöfs, Klättermusen, Norrona, Houdini and Bergans. They all consider this collaboration to be very important, as the use of fluorocarbons have long been a problem for the industry.
Although the fluorocarbon debate has recently increased in intensity, clothes treated with the new water repellent have not yet reached the market. The reason is that it takes anywhere from one and a half to two years to complete the process from production to hanger.
In Norway, for example, the issue of fluorocarbons has been taken seriously and one type of fluorocarbon will be prohibited beginning June 2014. This should be seen as a signal to the industry, says Trude Blekastad at Norwegian company Bergans, which sells outdoor clothing and gear.